It was Tuesday again and Aria had just finished up her meditation the Saint Anastacia. She had spoken to Oma earlier, who reminded her July 17th was in two days. Aria was on edge.
“Aria, your father is on the phone,” shouted Rudy up to the second floor.
“Tell him I’m not here…I went to the studio.”
Covering the phone Rudy said, “Come on now, I can’t do that, now come down here and talk to your dad a bit. You’ll be alright.” Another version of her father’s mantra, Aria thought, now taken up by Uncle Rudy. He had no idea of what was all right and if she could achieve it. In all likelihood she wasn’t going to be able to achieve right. She didn’t even understand the all meditation lessons.
Walking the stairs, she planted her heel firmly on the ground, harder than normal. He gave her a little hug and then handed her the phone.
“Hi. Yes, things are fine.” Pause and silence. “Things are fine, I said,” with a bit of spice in her voice. “Okay. Yes. Do you know what a cuckoo bird is? I thought you might know about this bird. Just because. Has anyone ever forsaken you? From Aunt Trish. Are you going to be here on July 17? I’m asking you a question. Okay. Goodbye.” A fire burned, a desperate need to hold him accountable.
Rudy suggested,“Aria, I’ve got some banana crème pie. Come on, let’s get a piece before we get caught. I hid it in the vegetable container in the refrigerator.”
Being a participant in a clandestine event under the circumstances sounded just fine to her. As they sat eating the pie, mostly whipped cream, Rudy prodded.
“You having some troubles with your dad?” he scraped off a dallop of crème and spooned it into his mouth.
“Sort of.” As delicious as the pie was, her appetite waned.
“Are you missing him?” Rudy asked, but as the last word fell from his mouth, he clipped his question. “I mean, I’m not trying to force you to talk, I know you adolescents need to talk in your own time.”
“No, it’s okay. I just think he, and my mother, lied to me about something.”
“It doesn’t feel good to be lied to. I know that” He looked into space as if he were recounting an event that was particularly distasteful.
“Did someone you loved lie to you?” The pie sat before her, the crème on top looking like a cloud.
“Yes.” Rudy said.
“What did they lie to you about?” she asked through a mouthful of rich and starchy pie .
“Well, it’s complicated.” He stirred his fork in the remaining crème on top, “I once adored a person, looked up to him. He was my best friend, then he decided to go away. It crushed me. He didn’t even consider me. He said he would come back, and he did but by the time he came back I was too overwhelmed with anger to really reestablish a connection.”
“Was it your mom or dad?” The pie filling shook a bit when she stabbed it with her fork.
“No.” He placed the fork down and folded his arms across his chest.
“Was it my dad?” The crème and sugar somehow filled an empty space.
“Well, naming the person isn’t important. I think we are two birds who’ve tasted the same bitter berry. And the only thing to do about that is to have another piece of pie. What do you say to that?”
“Serve ’em up.”
He referred to her father, she just knew. It fit Miles’ behavior perfectly.
“Aria, I want to show you something,” said Rudy. “I’ll be right back.”
Rudy left the kitchen and returned minutes later with a rectangular box.
“What’s that?” asked Aria.
Rudy unlatched the box and pushed it in front of Aria. She opened it, immediately greeted by the familiar scent of cologne on some of grandmother’s hats and notes she’d found in the brims.
“This is your father’s trumpet. Elias dropped it off three or four weeks ago. It was a happy period in his life the first several years he played. You wouldn’t believe it the way he acts now.”
“Did daddy wear cologne when he was a kid?”
“No. That smell is unmistakably his teacher’s.”
“What was his name? His full name.”
“Mr. Jayson Young,” answered Rudy.
’J. Just like on the notes.’
“Uncle Rudy, there’s some pictures upstairs on the dresser, tied with a yellow ribbon. Who’s the man in the photos with grandma?”
“That’s Mr. Young in those photos. They were best buds.”
Aria closed the case and pushed it back towards Rudy. Somehow she felt she’d caught her grandmother naked. She sucked in a deep contaminated breath. Another piece of her began its descent.
“Not so impressed? He was good, Bird. Really good.”
“It’s not that Uncle Rudy, I was just thinking about something else. I miss my Oma in Germany.” She looked up. “I can go back if I want to.”
“I’m sure you could discuss it with your father, he’d let you visit. That’s a pretty penny. You’d have to plan for it.”
“I have my own money. My Oma gave me plane money if I needed to go back home.”
“Bird, don’t run away like your dad. Make a plan, discuss it. Do it with integrity. It’ll all work out.”
What did work out mean? Because life looked like a ball of confusion currently. “Uncle Rudy, please don’t tell my father about the money. Promise.”
“I promise, Bird.”
A change of subject was needed.
“Uncle Rudy. Can I invite someone to Sunday dinner?” she asked.
“Of course. You are part of this family. Do you have someone in mind?”
“Eloisa from the garden.”
“Is she the nice woman that wears the orange jumpsuit?”
“That would be fantastic, Bird. Five o’clock sharp.”